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The Alaskan Highway


Into the Yukon and onto the Alaskan Highway! Brilliant weather! Gorgeous scenery. It felt as if we were riding through the pages of a calendar. Everything was scenic and picturesque and perfect. The road was now wide and smooth. Where the Cassiar had seemed like a little secret winding backroad, the Alaskan Highway was huge, straight and perfectly engineered.

We went through cities like Jade City, Nugget City and Teslin. Teslin was home to our scariest encounter thus far – riding on a long metal grated bridge behind an RV that was driving 5mph and occassionally braking for no apparent reason. I think our hearts must have stopped beating during that entire stretch, and I could hear Sarah screaming – “DON’T STOP DON’T STOP” all the way. When we finally got across, I think we were both mad enough to shoot his tires out from under him.







And finally at the end of a too long day, we entered the city of Whitehorse. After day upon day and hundreds of miles of ridng through wilderness and little one-horse towns, the sight of a real city with parks, houses, well manicured lawns, traffic lights and shiny Harley riders made us laugh with delight as we pulled in to the parking lot of a park and pulled our helmets off.


We ended up staying at a delightful place that night – the Beezkneez Backpackers hostel. They were full but they let us camp in their backyard. They had clean showers, internet access, kitchen, a cozy living room, and interesting travellers spending the night. The perfect place to rejuvenate our spirits! I try to retain this memory of Whitehorse in my memory, rather than the dismal one from ten days after.








Day 7 saw us waking up from a good night’s rest at the Beezkneez Bacpackers. We ate breakfast, started loading up the bikes and doing some routine maintenance. Sarah decided to adjust her chain and something went wrong so that the wheel made a creaking sound every time we rotated it. It took us a while to backtrack and sort it out, but it got her really frustrated. We then set out to go find some parts at an Auto Parts store only to realize that it was a Sunday and most stores were closed. After riding in the wilderness for most of the week, the one time we hit a major city turns out to be the one day when everything was closed! This could only happen to us.

We hit the road a bit late – around noon – and were hoping to at least cross the border before the end of the day. There were many construction zones on the way with loose packed gravel which slowed us down, but overall we kept up a good pace. We passed through the Kluane Lake area, which was gorgeous.









As we reached the end of the Yukon and neared Alaska, the weather changed dramatically. We rode a pretty consistent 90mph trying to outride a big, angry thunderstorm. The ominous clouds bearing down on us combined with flashes of lightning (scary in this barren remoteness) and the first few showers of rain made our entry into Alaska every bit as dramatic as I had hoped it would be. The last hundred miles riding into Alaska were almost like riding through some Tolkein-esque fantasy – completely remote with no vehicles out on the road besides us, misty mountains in the distance, bleak stripped down forests; and I especially have a chilling memory of passing a huge muddy angry marshland that reminded me of Isengard. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see an army of orcs emerging from it onto the road.

We crossed the border at around 7 in the evening – my first real border crossing from Canada into the US. The customs officer was really nice and chatty. He recommended that we take advantage of the recent dry weather and the fact that construction didn’t happen on Sundays to make it through all the way to Tok rather than stopping at Border City as planned. I was really tired by now, but what he said made sense, so we pushed on. I think we made it all the way to Tok on sheer willpower alone. We went through that dreaded stretch that every biker on the road had warned us about until now – about fifty miles of construction in rain gathering darkness. . The picture most people had painted of “The US side of the road is completely torn up.”, “Be very, very careful and go slow.”, “It’s fifty miles of the most miserable roads you will ever ride.” etc. had led us to imagine the aftermath of an apocalypse with dead bodies strewn all over and wailing infants crying out our names. The reality though, was quite a bit different because we pretty much sailed through it. It was slow going in some sections but nothing unmanageable. After we stopped for the night and exchanged notes, we resolved to never trust other people’s descriptions of road conditions again.

In hindsight though, we had been extraordinarily lucky with the weather – the rain ensured that there was no dust, but it has also not rained long enough for it to get slippery (as we found out when we went through that section a week later and my heart was in my mouth every time we went through a slick muddy section).






Sarah had promised me at the border that if I would consent to riding another 60 miles to Tok that day, we could stay at the best, swankiest place I wanted to instead of camping. I had given in at that thought and as we finally entered Tok, I pulled in to the parking lot of a somewhat fancy looking – for that area – hotel.

We turned off the bikes and walked into the reception… and stopped. Inside was a gigantic Christmas tree with presents piled around it, a TV playing Christmas carols and people walking around in Christmas sweaters putting up ornaments and decorations. It was July. We looked at each other and left.

Outside we tried calling the number of a hostel in that area only to be told that they were closed for a week because a moose had gotten in and destroyed all the beds.

Lady luck was really not on our side that night. We finally managed to find an RV park called the Sourdough Campground. It was raining steadily now and we pitched a tent in the rain, ate a rude meal and clambered into bed. This had been our longest day riding and the strain of the journey was now beginning to tell.

I was too tired even to grasp the thought that we had made our destination – we were in Alaska and tomorrow we would be in the capital city of Anchorage. All I wanted was to sleep and rest and I soon drifted off to sleep, the steady sound of rain lulling me into oblivion.
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