Tennessee to Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tellicotom, Feb 26, 2021.

  1. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    The next day, we rode up the famed Going to the Sun Road!! It was incredible...the hills were lush green and waterfalls were pouring off the mountainsides under a blue Montana Sky! It was a beautiful ride to Logan Pass. Can it get any better....? We'll see....

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    Our real goal for the day was to hike to overlook for Hidden Lake, which is a mile or 2 above Logan Pass... I heard there were animals there also!!

    Logan Pass has a nice visitors center and the trail to Hidden Lake starts off the deck of the Visitor Center. It was quite interesting for early July and what seemed to be 80 degree temps at the Pass!!

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    Another snowy climb....Look at that Montana Sky! We nailed it!!

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    When we got near the top, we starting seeing the animals...

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    Some of the goats were quite tame and curious! There is a wooden walkway to protect the alpine tundra and I was taking a picture of a goat while I was standing on the walkway. It was initially about 25 feet away, but when I stopped to take the picture, it got very curious and APPROACHED me to within arms reach!! I was scared to breathe as it was all wild eyed looking and I couldn't help but notice those stiletto horns!!!!
    #81
  2. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    We finally made it to the Overlook and marveled at the views under bright sunshine in magnificent Montana grandeur!!

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    We then returned to camp on the East Side for another night. We took out time on the decent as the views just kept compelling us to stop!!

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    Glacier was everything we had dreamed it would be and the weather couldn't have been better!

    The next day we left early to go back over Logan pass before the roads got busy....

    We had a big day ahead of us, as we planned to cross into Canada and see the famed Canadian Rockies for the first time!!
    #82
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  3. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Alright, after a great visit to Glacier, we got to ride the Going to the Sun Road 1 more time, east to west and in the morning to keep the sun behind us! It was a magical ride!

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    Up near Logan Pass, we spotted the other large animal that we didn't see the day before...


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    Bighorn sheep! I could have used a telephoto lens for that shot, ehhhh?

    The ride down the west side of the pass continued with spectacular scenery!!

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    As I recall, the traffic was very light until we got to close to West Glacier and hit a little bit of paving work. We were leaving Glacier before noon-time and the traffic was starting to flow into the park from the west. Our plan was to proceed north on US-93 and cross the border at Roosville. It all went uneventfully until the border. When we approached the checkpoint, we noticed that the RVs and motorhomes in front of made a quick crossing without so much as opening the RV door, and we were hopeful that our crossing would be as smooth.

    No such luck! Apparently there was a biker rally up at Radium Hotsprings or something and they were very interested in motorcyclists and what they might be carrying! So, after the typical border questions the border patrol said, "Ok, unload all your bags off the bikes and take them inside for a thorough inspection.." Our rely was of course..."Ok...." So we took all the bags off the bikes and took them inside where they inspected everything from the tent and sleeping bags to my wife's swimsuit.... All was well and we were allowed return to the bikes and spend what seemed to be half an hours strapping all of the gear back on the bikes!

    But, we made it into a new providence for both of us!!

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    Our plan was to maybe make it to Radium Hot Springs for the night. That would be a big day for us at about 275 miles that included the Going to the Sun Road plus the border crossing...

    We continued north... As we approached the Rt 93/95 junction near Cranbrook, the sky ahead grew very dark and ominous and lightening flashed through the sky...Since it was just an empty road, we did like Roger instructed us and we put on our raingear, since we weren't big dummies...and continued to push North!!

    Just past the 93/95 split, where we continued on 93 north, we had to cross the wide expanse of the Kootemey River valley and then the elevated bridge at Fort Steele. The winds were whipping and gusty...and the rains started in earnest as the thunder roared...very scary ... We made it across the bridge, getting violently tossed from side to side by the unpredictable gusts, and exited into the little tourist area of Ft Steele to wait out the storm and clean out our britches!!

    After the storm passed,we decided to backtrack to Cranbrook and get a room for the evening as it was getting late in the day...
    #83
  4. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    The next day, we planned to take Rt-93 to Rt-2 through Radium Hot Springs and the Kooteney National Park, about 175 miles and more to our liking!!

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    It was cool and damp in the Kooteney's! Typical BC weather I suppose...but it kept the rivers full!

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    W stopped and did one small hike along the way to see this impressive, narrow gorge...

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    That shot is of course taken looking straight down!

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    Once we made it to Rt-2, we turned east and headed toward Baniff. It wasn't long till we spotted our first big animal in Canada, right off the 4-lane...!!

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    Grizzz!

    We then turned onto the Bow Valley Parkway and headed to Johnston Canyon Campground, as I heard the hiking there was not to be missed!!

    On our way we spotted Grizz's cousin, and not far from camp either! He looked big and well fed!!!

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    We rolled into camp in early evening and were again lucky enough to find a nice spot! The camp at Johnston Canyon was the first time I recall mosquitoes being a problem and it was also very cold in my 50 degree summer bag....what was I thinking? Kim brought her 20 degree bag and was very cozy!!

    She was so cozy, when I awoke (or should I say, got up and out of the tent shivering) at first light and asked her if she wanted to go on this spectacular hike, she declined and chose to stay snuggled n her bag....! A reason to go back I suppose.....!!

    Well....was the hike worth getting out of the cozy bag for???? We'll see!
    #84
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  5. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Well....was the hike worth it? That brings to mind the response I got from my old kayaking and canoeing buddy, Bill. Bill was (is?) and ex-wildwater racer and was a member of the US team. Once his racing days were over, Bill got into expedition type trips and he and I spent 10 days paddling through the Everglades from Everglades City to Flamingo. About the same time-frame, Bill had this goal to paddle everything runnable in the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers basins and spent a considerable amount of time doing these obscure little creeks in the Allegheny National Forest of Pennsylvania. When he came back from one weekend trip and was describing the exploratory run that involved swims and horrendous carries around various obstacles, I asked him, "was it worth it?"

    His response, "They're ALL worth doing ONCE!"

    Well the hike, or better described as a walk, was DEFINITELY worth it! Especially since I started at first light before the crowds showed up... The walk is along a paved trail for the most part and is less than a 4 mile out and back walk, up along this creek canyon, and boy is spectacular! If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend taking a few hours to to this walk!! Here's some pics!!!

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    Notice the walkway hanging off the canyon wall on the left...


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    Spectacular walkway into the canyon...!

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    Notice the glacial tinge to the water....

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    I returned to to the trailhead just as the crowds started showing up...about 9:00 I guess, and hustled back to see Kim and tell her what all I had seen!! It was without a doubt the best bang for the buck (or mile) waterfall walk I had ever done!!! I was so excited, I asked her if she wanted to go see it, but she declined, as she wanted to go visit Banff. So, we left the tent setup, put the food in the food storage box and headed off to Banff to see the sights!!
    #85
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  6. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Baniff was (is?) the typical tourist town that has a lot of grand old building dating back to when the railroads were king in that part of the world. It does have a very beautiful setting below an all rock mountain along the banks of a powerful river. Here's some pics...

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    We spent the rest of the day browsing through Baniff and taking in the sights, then we returned to camp of course. The next day we took a day ride to Lake Louise and saw the sights there. It was considerably more crowded than Baniff as I recall, but unfortunately, the photos seemed to have escaped. Maybe my camera battery was dead and I used a tablet that has long since been put to rest without archiving the photos....oh well...

    We then returned to Johnston Canyon for one more night. The plan the next day was to get an early start, at least for us, return to Lake Louise and pick up the famed Icefields Parkway that would take us to Jasper, Alberta.

    Well, we stopped in Lake Louise to get gas before the Parkway and as we were making our way toward the Parkway, we got separated in heavy traffic. I was in the lead and pulled to the side at a red light to let Kim catch up, I waited and waited.... Where's Kim????
    #86
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  7. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Well, I eventually got off my bike, walked back against the traffic and found her stalled in the middle of the road, hunnnh? I go up to her and she says, "my bike won't run". Hunnnh, after a month on the road, our good luck may have run out, or continued, depending on perspective. I like to think our good luck continued, because I would much rather have her broke down in town than at a remote spot further north...

    We got the bike to the side into a parking lot and assessed the situation. It was turning over fine, but didn't sound right, like the fuel injection wasn't working or something... Now I can change my oil, tires, adjust the chain, plug a flat, help Roger adjusting valves on other bikes , etc, but I didn't feel comfortable diagnosing and fixing this problem in the parking lot and then continue on remote roads to Alaska. Hummm, what to do??

    It's hard to recall for sure, but I think we pushed the bike to a parking lot and were considering our options.......We considered using our roadside assistance insurance, but that didn't work out very well. If we hired a flatbed to take it to the shop, they wanted an arm and leg to take it to a non-Suzuki shop further north and west, away from Calgary, which obviously had a lot of shops... Hmmm...? Plus all the campgrounds around there were FULL.

    Well, as we were contemplating, this nice couple comes up to us and after a discussion of our situation says, "Well, you're welcome to stay with us in our fifth wheel tonight and we'll come up with a plan!" Sold!!!

    At this point, I was convinced our best option was to get the bike to Calgary, about 150 miles away, but how? As we talked with our new friends over the evening meal, we came up with a Plan for the next day!!
    #87
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  8. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    The plan consisted of me leaving at first light to ride to Calgary, rent a U-haul, return to get Kim and the bike and get back to Calgary the same day! All said, 150 miles of riding and 300 miles of driving...seemed reasonable! I really enjoyed the early morning ride out of Lake Louise with the high mountains on my left as I recall in dim light of early morning... I pretty much made it out of the mountains an onto the western plains before the sun got very high in the sky.. Then I started feeling apprehensive. Calgary is a huge city a d I wasn't exactly sure where I was going, plus I don't ride n cities very much, so I'm still getting comfortable with that type of riding...But a man gotta do what a man gotta do, so I continued pushing east!

    At that point my bike was also running poorly, from the lower octane Canadian gas we were using perhaps and I got to the point of hoping I made it to Calgary!!
    Well, once I hit the stop and go traffic entering the city, my bike started sputtering and stalling!!! Maybe we won't make it to Alaska after all???? I eventually made it to the U-haul store and was as pleased as I could possibly be to see the Suzuki shop RIGHT NEXT DOOR! Could we have been any luckier??!!

    I dropped my bike off at the shop, told them the story and plan, and went to the U-haul store to get the truck. Then I returned to Lake Louise for Kim and her bike ASAP!

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    Our new friends had lunch waiting when I got back!! How nice is that?!

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    They then helped us load Kim's bike, we thanked them profusely for their hospitality, and headed back to Calgary!!

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    Well, we got back to Calgary and got Kim's bike to the shop by about 2:00. EXTREMELY helpful and told us that they were very busy, but called the owners of the bikes in front of us, told them we were broke down on our way north and would they be kind enough to let the shop work on our bikes first?? Everyone said yes and the shop said they should have our bikes ready within 24 hours! That is awesome and I don't think would ever happen in the States, sadly...!! Mine just needed a tuneup, but Kim's needed diagnosed and fixed!!

    We then asked them were there any motels nearby. The bad news, "it's Stampede Days! There isn't a motel with a room left within 100 miles!" Gulp....now what? We decided to walk to the nearby Casino, get some dinner and a beer and consider our options... Option 1, we could sleep in the U-haul, as we had it rented for 24 hours, but it sure is hot!

    Option 2, "I think I recall a posting listed in Tent Space in Calgary, ohh here it is and here's his number...Why don't you text him, tell him our situation and see if he can help?", I suggested....
    #88
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  9. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

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    Bummer on the breakdown, good thinking on the U-haul small rig with the lower deck and ramp.
    You won the Customs lottery and got searched, been there done that unfortunately. You did luck out, you didn't have to go in the room with all the with all the mirrors and start taking your clothes off...
    #89
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  10. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Almost instant reply back, "where are you, I'll come get you!". "We are at GW Cycle World", we responded and hustled out of the casino and back to the bike shop. Well Doug, showed up shortly with this small Honda Civic or similar and we were surrounded by a mound of gear that surely wouldn't all fit into the car. Doug says, "Come lets go"... and in our somewhat bewildered state Kim asks me "what all do we need?" ...and basically what are we going to do with all the gear ... I respond..."Well we need our tent and sleeping...:" as I'm cut off by Doug..."No, no, we HAVE BEDS here in Calgary, grab your tooth brush and a change of underwear and let's go!" I think he was trying to stay ahead of the afternoon rush hour traffic...

    Well, GW Cycle World allows us to leave a lot of the extra gear at their shop and off we go with Doug! A very nice guy! We got pizzas and beer and talked like old friends about journeys taken and those still to come! His shop was immaculate, so unlike my 'garage" back in Tennessee that is usually in total disarray with motorcycles, kayaks, bicycles, leftover building supplies..etc, etc. The next day he took us out and showed us around a bit of Calgary.. he also took us to MEC, the Canadian version of REI where I bought a proper -7 degrees C (20 deg F) cozy down filled sleeping bag! Before we knew it, GW Cycle calls and says our bikes are ready, about 24 hours since dropping them off!! Doug takes us back to GW where the technician explains that whoever had the tank of Kim's bike off, boogered up the wiring harness to the fuel injection system and that was the problem.... They also tuned the throttle bodies, etc. The bikes were running like new again!!

    Then we got the race-like experience of following Doug back to his place through, at least to us, very heavy Calgary rush hour traffic on like a 5 or 6 lane expressway!!! Definitely NOT our type of riding, but we made it without getting separated or anything... We get back to Doug's where he told us to put the bikes in his shop for safe keeping overnight and we have another pleasant evening of chatting it up. Well, it may not have even been dark yet and Doug says, " I need to be at work at 5:30 in the morning (he was an Engineer for the light rail system and was the only person in western Canada qualified to do what he did), but there is no reason for you folks to get up that early, get up whenever you want, have some coffee and a shower, etc. Ohh and here's an extra key to the shop, just leave it on the work bench and be sure to lock the doors when you leave... and send pictures!"

    Wow, how nice is that! Our little breakdown couldn't have worked out better! We got up about 7:30, had showers and coffee and headed west out of Calgary on nice little 2-lanes that Doug had told us about. We had made a new friend, had full-tanks of gas, the bikes were running fine, the sun was at our backs and the Canadian Rockies were ahead.!!! Does it get any better???!!!!
    #90
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  11. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    We quickly made our way back to Lake Louise and picked up the Icefields and headed toward Jasper... In my mind, Yellowstone was nice, the Grand Tetons were better, and Glacier National Park was better yet. BUT, the Canadian Rockies stand head and shoulders above their southern cousins! The Icefileds Parkway was incredible!! Here's some pics...

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    TBC...!
    #91
  12. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Continuing on the Icefields, we met other riders heading North also...some had interesting rides......

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    We stopped to check out the Columbia Glacier... Really sad how quickly it is receding...

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    TBC....
    #92
  13. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Distance was really deceiving, as I recall there was a slight rise and then a downhill between where the last photo was taken and the glacier, it was a lot further off than it appeared....!

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    I wonder where it is today?????

    We stopped to check out amazing rivers

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    We made it into Jasper in the late evening and were lucky enough again to find a very suitable camping spot just outside of town..

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    As I recall, we watched elk stroll through the campground as we made dinner!!
    #93
  14. sgio

    sgio Been here awhile

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    Following along...sounds like a great trip! Thanks for posting the report.:clap
    #94
  15. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    It really was a GREAT trip. I'm glad a lot of folks are enjoying the RR.

    We were very lucky to have the time off that summer when we were young enough and strong enough to do such an extended trip.

    TBC.....
    #95
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  16. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Well, it was at that campground that I made the decision to jetson the chair off of Kim's bike! The way the side cases and racks were designed, I could leave my large bag and chair on the bike and still be able to remove the side cases. On Kim's bike, we had to remove the large bag and chair every night to access the side cases. I was strapping that darn chair on every day and maybe setting in it once every 4 days....it had to go!! Our neighbor was happy to have it.!!

    Of course Kim wanted to go to Jasper and browse the shops, etc.. I spent a lot of that time outside looking at the mountains with that old John Denver song playing in my head...you know...the one that goes like this.....

    "Up in a meadow in Jasper, Alberta...two men and four ponies on a long, lonesome ride....
    One was a teacher and one a beginner....just wanting to be there...just wanting to know..
    To see the high country and learn of her people.....
    The ways that they lived there......the ways that they died...."


    In addition to tourism, it seemed that lumber and railroads were and still are a very big part of the employment picture in Jasper. Here's some pics...

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    Jasper was also a decision point. We could leave town to the east and then north to Dawson Creek and the ALCAN, or we could head west through Prince George and pickup the Cassiar... We chose to go west!!

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    There was a beautiful stretch along a lake....

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    We went past the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, Mt Robson..

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    As we continued west on the Yellowhead Highway, RT-16, the sunny day turned to clouds and then rain.....We pushed on to Purden Lake Provincial Park, not far from Prince George. The campground was heavy with trees and rain....I think I could actually smell the bears.

    A quick dinner and to the tent........the rains continued all night....but the old Mountain Hardware did it's job....!
    #96
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  17. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Well...no bears got us during the night...and the day dawned with heavy overcast and the rains continued...We packed up our soggy tent, zipped up our rain gear and continued west! Bu the time we reached the outskirts of Prince George, the rain had let up and the skies were starting to clear! We stopped at a large convenience store just outside of town that was pretty empty and had a lot of indoor seating where we were able to regroup a bit...It looked like PG was pretty down and perhaps impoverished...we continued west.

    We rolled into Smithers in mid-late afternoon under beautiful sunshine! The town had a really nice municipal campground right on the Bulkley River, which is a huge northern river, and with great views of the snowcapped mountains to the southwest.. Our tented dried quickly in the bright sun and we took a run into town for some food and beer. We had a relaxing evening riverside and were also very excited, as we would hit the Cassiar Highway in the morning and hopefully reach Hyder, Alaska before evening!

    Here's a pic as we were about to leave the camp...


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    It was only a short ride till we reached the Cassiar Highway!!

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    Alright!! It finally seemed that Alaska was within reach!!

    Shortly after turning onto the Cassiar, we crossed the another huge river, but I don't think it was the one that we slept beside the night before.

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    The weather couldn't have been nicer....


    Before we knew it, we reached Mexziadin Junction, and Rt 37A that would take us to Stewart, BC/ Hyder, Alaska...Whoo hoo!! We could just about taste it now...!

    The ride down the valley into Stewart was spectacular!! Glaciers entering the sea, waterfalls cascading off the mountains sides, and all under bright blue northern skies... We were overjoyed with the incredible grandeur and the sense of accomplishment in our travels...

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    and finally....... after 5 fabulous weeks on the road... !! We couldn't have been happier!!

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    #97
  18. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    We stayed at a little hippy looking campground....and considered going to the Salmon Glacier the next day...but didn't??? Totally not our style to miss a point of interest, I guess we NEED to go back! We looked around the village for a bit ad retraced our path to the Cassiar....but ohhh...what path it was!

    They were building a a new bridge to the "marina"...Hoping to attract cruise ships I suppose..

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    Maybe someday...maybe today....ohh I forgot, COVID........

    We found a nostalgic looking fishing boat in a tranquil harbor under snow capped mountains.

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    A very tranquil bay on a pleasant summer afternoon...the kind of place where time stands still...

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    Then we made our way back to the Cassiar and continued north...to Alaska proper...!!

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    As you can see, our good fortune of great weather continued......!!!
    #98
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  19. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Telling this story has me pulling out the old Yukon map.....and reliving great times...!

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    #99
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  20. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    We continued north on the Cassiar, which was a bit rough, chip seal in nature...but nothing like it was 'back in the day..."

    The next stop that I have noted is at Bell II I believe. It was a place to get gas and we never pass up gas...right...?!

    All such places in the north country are gathering place for all sorts of travelers and workers, there aren't that many places to get supplies! Of course we all need to stop and have a coffee when available... We met this interesting chap and had a 15 minute or so discussion... As I recall, he was German and started at Prudhoe Bay and heading for Ushuaia...

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    We saw unusual and interesting helicopters...

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    We saw workers at "shift change" after spending a couple of weeks in the backcountry prospecting for copper...

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    Then, we continued north!!!!

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