Thursday, July 9, 2015

Northern Road Trip

A beautiful Spring in British Columbia  meant that my wanderlust was ramping up as quickly as the temperatures.  I decided that I would point my nose towards the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.  I also decided that it was time to invest in a second touring bike, as Blondy has accumulated over 170,000 kilometers and needed a bit of a rest.

My son Ian decided to join me for this tour, and after some fitting and fidgeting at Island BMW in Victoria, we were able to get to the mainland to refit the bikes for a northern ride.

Leaving Chilliwack, BC

Both bikes prepped and ready.

We hit our first patch of rain just outside Hope, BC.

A roadside chain adjustment on Blondy after a couple thousand KM.

We were to meet up with my friend Doug at Cache Creek. We eventually met up with him in Quesnel, after a nice night of camping at 100 mile House. We travelled north to Chetwynd, where Ian decided that Blondy had too much of a lean, and he borrowed his uncle Brian's torch to adjust the kickstand.

Ian attempted to repair the aging kickstand on Blondy in Chetwynd.

Afer a great visit with my Sister and her husband Brian, we headed north from Chetwynd, through to Hudson Hope.  We stopped at an overview to get a glimpse of the majestic valley, which will be flooded when the Site C dam is completed.

This valley vista will soon be replaced by several million gallons of water, as the site C dam near Hudson Hope is constructed.

Heading towards Fort Nelson on the Alaska Highway, we had our first encounter with the northern Bison.  These wonderful creatures are a magnificent living legacy of  the frontier days of Canada.

Ian is looking for the right angle to approach sleeping Bison...

Our goal as we headed  north  from Fort Nelson was to hit Dawson City in time for  the "Dust to Dawson" gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts.  Without incident, we arrived on schedule, with a couple of days to enjoy the gathering and participate in some local rides.

Doug and his new Suzuki

The bikes lining up for the midnight photo

We found Dawson City to be very open to the 400 or so bikers in town, and the wide streets and friendly shops were very welcoming.

The Dust to Dawson rendevous brings bikes and welcome tourist dollars to Dawson City.

Wide open streets and wide-open skies 

The turn of the century architecture evokes the days of old

Advertising potable sprits, as opposed to plain poison....

Yukon poetry

Many winters of snow load on the old roof

Love the wide streets....

We all know about  Diamond tooth Gerty, don't we?

The Triple J Hotel hosted the gathering of bikes.

Team Pterodactyl rides again..

Great venue for the bike gathering

Early morning gathering before the poker run.
This grand old Trans Alp came over from Red Deer.

Love these Beemers..

Ready to go


Slow Rider race

Time for the poker run.

Golden  Oldie

Where do we start?

Another  classic

Packing her up

A well stocked Ural

Unfortunately, a visitor from Alaska did not make a corner, and the beemer was pretty much toast.

Sign of the North

Calling Home

Dawson City lies on the mighty Yukon River and relics of the past illustrate the power of that river and the efforts men made to get to the gold fields..

Ship called Keno.

Apparently Robert Service wrote some of his poetry while employed in this building.

A ferry crosses the Yukon, carrying folks towards Alaska
 A plaque illustrates the trials of the early prospectors

Heading for Gold

We went on a day  ride which took us into the gold fields near Dawson City.  We passed dredges and working placer mines.

The dredges are huge, leaving mountains of rock as they slowly move through the river valleys.

The final leg on the poker run was an obstacle course, ending with a good sample of target fixation.

 There were motorcycle games in the parking lot of the hotel, with the slow race being very popular.

 A young fellow from Argentina was participating on his 125 cc  bike.

Wide awake at Midnight

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 At 12:00 midnite, all participants gathered for a group photo....

 After the group photo, we travelled to the Dome, which is the high point behind Dawson City.  People were photographing the mindnight Sun, and paragliding from the top of the mountain into the valley below.

We decided to lighten our loads for the Dempster Highway, and a pre ride check of our gear confirmed that we could store quite a bit and still make the 750 kilometer run to Inuvik.

 We came upon "Two Moose Lake" after a few hours of travel on the gravel.. Sure enough, two moose were busy in the lake.  I wonder if the Yukon government have them on retainer?

Some of the gravel sections required close concentration and focus on the road. I found that Red Bull did give me wings....

 We had planned on needing extra fuel, as there a few gas stops on the way.

Eagle Plains was a welcome stopover for fuel and food.

There were a number of ferry crossings as we approached the northern reaches of the Territories.  The Mackenzie River is a wide and powerful River.

Clay contemplating the Mackenzie River

Ian managed to find us a bunk space in a helicopter hanger when we finally arrived in Inuvik.

His friends were able to take us up on a  short trip over the estuary of the Mackenzie River and over the town of Inuvik.

Ian performed some late night maintenance on Blondy, attaching the GPS to the bike so that it is more readable.

The ride south from Inuvik required focus and attention to the varying road conditions.

The bikes did not like the calcium chloride which was used on the roads to keep the dust down.  The mixture tended to make for slippery conditions and was very bad for the bikes' chains.

Blondy was very sad at the amount of dirt covering her...

Back in Dawson City, the bikes spent a great deal of time getting power-washed, and cleaned.

Ian and I headed back down the Alaska Highway to Fort Nelson, with a stop at the Liard Hot Springs. 

From Fort Nelson, we headed north again via the Liard Highway, aiming for Yellowknife.

Some sections of this route need a good grading, and the mounds of gravel made for interesting riding in some parts.

The bugs seemed to  become bigger and meaner as we travelled into the Territories.

Again, fuel availabilty was an issue for the F800, and we were grateful to have planned on this and were utilizing the Rotopax tank.

After a long ride, we arrived in Yellowknife. Ian treated me to a wonderful cod dinner at  a famous local eatery.  

The cook's sauce on the cod was excellent, and a fine way to celebrate Ian's return to Yellowknife.

I had a great tour of Yellowknife...

We camped in a local campground, adjacent to the airport.

The Rock has some interesting bands of different minerals flowing through it.
 An old remnant of flying days gone by was mounted on a nearby rock..

Ian hooked up with an old girl friend named Zoe.

We visited the airport, and took  a tour of Buffalo Air, meeting some of the personalities of the TV show.

The DC 3 cockpit looks pretty simple, compared to modern cockpits.

This particular DC 3 flew over Normandy, during D Day...
A belly tank...
Modern and expensive propeller...

After a rest in Yellowknife, we headed south to Hay River, where Ian reconnected with his friend Mike.

 We passed by Alexandra Falls....

 We spent the night at a campground on Slave Lake, and I reconnected with an old friend and fishing partner......

The campground  is very popular  with folks in northern Alberta..

 A very nice little girl and her dad brought over drinks and a fruit dish for the tired bikers......

After leaving Slave Lake, a grouse flew out of nowhere  and smashed the front headlight on Blondy.  After 180,000 km's, she gets taken out by a dumb bird.

After a visit to Fort McMurry, we headed south and landed in Edmonton for a visit with my son Gord and his wife...