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Sunday, May 31, 2009

I left Grand Prarie hoping for low winds and good weather. That didn't work. I should have strapped a rubber chicken to the side of my bike for good luck. Overcast and a light drizzle, i was on my way to leave town and saw this. A gigantic sundial. I love big things.

I rode in the windy, cold (8C) and wet morning to something else that brightend my day. A giant beaver!! this is in beaver lodge in case anyone is wondering.
(hair by HELMET)

I crossed into the BC border and got right to the Mile 0 monument of the Alaska Highway. I went to the info building and asked for campground info. I had some but wanted more. They gave me some great info, maps and all the gas stations en route. that's great info to have.

I took a picture by the historic Mile 0 marker. I wanted it with the bike, but it's in the middle of the street and i didn't have the balls to park it there, run to put my camera on a timer and run back. this will have to do.

Went into white spot since i was starving. had awesome dry ribs, and a so-so steak sandwich.

Just as i was passing through Taylor, a dog saw me coming from far away and was on an intercept course. that's not good. I slowed down until he was near me and i gunned it. If he was coming any closer i would have kicked him in the head. It may be mean to you, but i don't want to lose control of the bike and kill myself over a stupid dog. (and stupid owner) TIE UP YOUR DOGS.

Since i knew i would be camping, i stopped at Ft. St john for my usual coffee, and would do groceries there. while leaving the Tims, i tried to back up but an SUV stopped behind me. it was far enough away so i backed up as much as i could and turn right and away from there.
too late. the dumb bitch to my right started to back up. so i stopped ( my wheel was about 6 inches from her bumper) and luckily she stopped too. I didn't have much room so i started to go again and AGAIN she starts to back up. If i hadn't moved my front wheel, my momentum would have caused my PIAA light to get knocked off my her bumper. The problem is, since i did move and going so slowly i was totally off balance and the bike tipped over. It was too heavy to keep upright so i let it go.
I tried to lift it but it was too heavy, thankfully some dude helped me lifting it up and moving it to behind the next parking spot which was empty. few girls walked by and asked if i was ok. It looks as if they thought the dumb bitch hit me.
thankfully, the highway pegs and my saddlebags took the fall. the highway bar was bent a bit and no damage to the saddlebags. no big deal.

all this time the bitch didn't move(in her rusted out blue bronco II). still in reverse with her foot on the brake. I left and went to do some groceries. all i have to say is Karma's a bitch.

picture porn along the Alaska Highway:

I got to Fort Nelson and decided to not stay there, as per Greg and many other's suggestions.I decided to go all the way to Liard hot springs where i could sooth my sore bones in a hot pool. that didn't happen (more on that later)

right before and right after riding through fort nelson, i saw black bears... yup, this is bear country.
I left Fort Nelson and thought that Alaska highway was a bit boring... until now. This is where i finally got to see some mountains, and see the grand expanse for what it is.

stunning. I didn't want to go too fast due to fuel usage, but then i realized that if i didn't get my ass in gear, i'd be late!

Campgrounds are usually only open until 10pm and i was running late.
There's no ocean, but this stretch of the road puts the famous Cabot Trail to shame. I realized that there's a gas station in between where i was and Liard, so i hit the throttle. hard. I was still being 'safe'... but that's relative when it comes to motorcycles.

I did miss a lot of beautiful scenery by going so fast, but since i'm on a motorcycle, it's not like i can rubberneck at everything.

I did stop a few times to take some pictures. At one point, the highway is under contstruction and with the constant showers i had during the day and with no gravel, it was just a huge mud pit. Not really mud though, more like really wet clay. Not fun, but made it through there.

I was zooming along and was passing a creek, but out of the corner of my eye i thought i saw all white instead of moving water. I discounted it until i saw more of this type of phenomenon. it was SNOW. no wonder i was so damn cold (tshirt, long sleeved shirt, jacket and liner) I could have put more clothes on, but i didn't. stubborn i guess.

As i continued i saw snow on the side of the road, but further up until i got to one place where the snow was very close. so close i made a snowball and threw it. i hate winter.

I kept going and saw a moose on the side of the road, and a few minutes later i saw a caribou on the side. this reminded me to take it a little easy because of all the wildlife.
I continued on at a fair pace, and took a picture of Muncho lake. some parts are still frozen over.

I continued around muncho and stopped to take more pictures. Behind me was a great view so i backed the bike up and lost my footing. blammo, bike goes down, but this time on the left side.
I couldn't lift is so i had to take everything off the bike and lifted it. I couldn't see any damage.
now i was going to be late to get to Liard. at least i got this shot.

I really hit the throttle hard now and as i was getting close to Liard hot springs, there were a few bison on the side of the road. then a few hundred feet from Liard, another bison. this is really bison country here...
got to liard at 10:15 and it was closed! I went across the street and there was a lodge there. Turns out that they have camp sites available for 10$ and they have showers.

The bonus was having a nice pile of dry hardwood at the site. It turns out i got there just as she was finishing up with a customer. 2 minutes later and i would have been sleeping at the side of the road.

Set up camp, ate and watched the fire. didn't take many pics as setting up camp and stuff kept me busy.

this last pic was taken at 11:52pm. neato

Thar she blows!

She being Gaia/ Terra / Mother Earth or whatever you want to call that bitch that was blowing me around all day like a rag doll. more on that later.

The day started out pleasant enough. Stopped at the Tims in Lloydminster and had a morning coffee. I chatted with a dude for a little while (missed his name) and when I was just about to leave, he ran over and cleaned my disgusting windsheild. guess he kept a can of cleaner and a roll of paper towel in his saddlebags. I hadn't cleaned it in a long time so it was nice to be able ot see through it again. thanks winshield cleaner dude!

I noticed right away that the landscape was changing dramatically. first is the appearance of highways with curves, followed by trees and the start of gentle rolling hills. I would have taken a picture but it was too damn windy.

The winds were gusting quite strongly again and it was wearing me out pretty fast. I stopped in at Greg's Truck stop in Innisfree and saw this over Birch Lake.

I asked about it and the waitress and another customer told me it was the alkali on the beach being pushed around by the wind. yup... it was that windy.

Had a good trucker breakfast while writing in my log book and eavesdropping on what other customers were talking about. Seems the wind is a common topic with most people. One customer said that it was on the news due to so much wind recently.

Filled up on the cheap gas ($0.88/ Litre) and met Greg.

Meet Greg.

Greg is from Indiana was just coming back from a loop around the Cassiar highway and down the AlCan highway. That's his sweet GL1800 and trailer. Neat setup. He also used a SPoT device and said it's a great device to have. Next trip i'll be getting one, just for the piece of mind for the folks back home. It's not a get-out-of-jail free card, but it's close. Nice meeting you Greg and thanks for the advice!

I kept going down the yellowhead trail and stopped over in Vegreville, to check out the Pysanka. the last time i saw it i was probably 10 years old. Hasn't changed from what i remember and it still looks cool. I love big things.

a lame picture of a Bison. I had just passed a herd of them at Elk island national park, and this guy moved at the last second. bah. I didn't feel like spending the park entry fee to see Bison that i've seen before. it brings back memories of camping there with the scouts as a young kid and getting out of the tent in the morning and having a bison about 40 feet away. ahhh memories.

For anyone travelling through this area, take the time and visit the park, it's quite nice if you like that kind of thing.

Onwards i rode into Edmonton. Did i say before that i hate big cities? Well i'm saying it again. hate it. I was just passing through and needed a break (ie: coffee and a smoke). Saw this bird, don't know what it is(magpie maybe?), but was neat looking. looked all black at first but when it flew away it had a white stripe on each wing (in a V shape)

Leaving Edmonton, i headed forever west and had to stop over due to high winds. so very tiring.
I stopped over in Mayerthorpe. I like little towns like this. wouldn't want to live there. no timmes. murals and grain elevators. small towns are neat.
kept riding and again had to stop over because the winds were tiring me out and saw a sign for Tim horton. coffee good. wind bad.

Took and break and met Lindsay (fellow biker) that told me all about the area and gave me some pointers along the route i'll be taking. While chatting we kept getting hit by sandstorms. Seems this is normal for Whitecourt due to being built essentially on sand. nasty. think i still have some grit from whitecourt up my nose.

Here's a picture of the highway after Whitecourt. you can see it's really starting to get hilly. Very large wide open lanes, but the winds were brutal at this point. I think i avoided 3 or 4 crashes due to the high crosswinds. At one point, the crosswinds were so bad that i thought i was going to scrape a peg... while going in a straight line. I pulled over at that point because i was a little freaked out since the crosswinds picked up my tank bag and almost flew off the bike. the only reason it didn't fly off was that it hit my throttle arm. On the side of the road, the wind almost blew the bike over off the side stand. the wind was that strong.

took a short vid of it. in the video, this was the constant crosswind, not the stronger gusts that blew in from either side of me at any time. nasty business.
I checked in and went for a short ride around town. Needed some food, coffee and it was nice to finally ride around without having wind blowing me all over.
stopped in to a Tim's and chatted for a while with Ron. wish i had my camera! Ron gave me some great tips for my journey north and even gave me some Inuvik connections. Thanks Ron for all the info and tips and the great chat. I'll be putting those to good use!
The wind really kicked my ass today. Wish i could return the favour, but how do you kick something you can't see. Before now i was just travelling through Canada to get to this point. Tomorrow, i start my 'trip'.

Friday, May 29, 2009

it was the best of times, it was the blurst of times...

I was up so late last night that i started out the day later than i thought i would. oh well, no big deal, it's not like i have any plans made, so i'm free to do anything. the bike was running rough the night before and knew i was low on oil, but didn't know exactly how low. I used up the whole liter of oil and it's back to the proper level. not sure why the bike burned all that oil, but i know it's not leaking.

I wanted to go to Rouleau, SK and take some pictures since that's where Corner Gas was filmed. the GPS took me on highway 714 which is a 20 km stretch of very loose gravel road. that was scary... almost dumped the bike a few times in the first kilometer of riding it. i was going about 40k/h and i was all over the placed and the pucker factor was pretty high. well, i did what the only logical thing was to do. i sped up to about 80 and it was smooth sailing. reminds me of the motorcycle saying ' When in doubt, throttle out... it may not work but it'll end the suspense sooner'. heh.

I got to Rouleau (AKA Dog River) and took some pics. The howler, the hotel, the grain elevator and sadly... no corner gas. It seems they took all the neat stuff off the building.

corner gas. too bad i didn't get to see it like it was on tv.

i headed north and fought head winds and crosswinds the whole time. nasty business that.

I stopped at an esso that had a big restaurant sign. no restaurant anymore since it's converted to a shop and uhaul rental place. The gas station guy was helpful and told me of a restaurant nearby. I told him the winds were killing me... his useful suggestion was "get out now, fast"

seems these were just the morning winds and the winds pick up during the day. he showed me a route to take to get to saskatoon and onto the yellowhead trail. Thanks Esso Dude! (right before moosejaw)

speaking of moosejaw... more like moose ass. couldn't really stop on the side of the highway just to take a picture of the moose.

get out fast. not exactly saskatchewan tourism at it's best, but if you're passing through, it's words to live by. those winds were very nasty. winds are usually bad on big trucks, but people all over were complaining about cars and trucks being blown all over the roads. imagine being on a motorcycle that acts like a giant sail. a few times, i thought the bike would take to the air. scary stuff. as the day wore on, the winds got worse.

on the way to sasktatoon, was pleasently surprised to find this in the land of flatness.

i took a short video to show you how windy it was... it was constant wind that gusted often. the video doesn't show the gusts.

made my way through saskatoon and kept going. i just wanted to get out.

action shot on the way to North Battleford. not much action... well, that's saskatchewan for you.

North Battleford. i like roadside attractions like the giant RCMP officer. least this one can't give me a speeding ticket.

The Battleford Buffalo. It's made out of barbed wire. neato.

This sundial next to the buffalo. I took the picture at 4:45. pretty accurate better than my cell phone, gps and clock on the bike combined. (all three have different times now)

Elevators. life on the prairies...

Meet Walton and Linda.

It's people like this that restore my faith in humanity. We had a great chat about riding and life in general. By the time we went our separate ways, the weather had greatly improved. Nice sunny day with no wind. they were my lucky charm i think. Walton's got a sweet fat bob (and Linda's sweet firebird in the background). Gotta love that bike. Looks nice, sounds nice. I want. Walton was interested in my trip and wanted to find out how it ended so we swapped info, my blog for his business card. Walton, if you're reading, send me your email address!

I rode out of town and headed west (always west) and the ride was great. No head or cross winds, sun was shining but not in my eyes and the landscape is starting to change as i go further west.

I stopped over in Lloydminster. Got a room with everything i needed. A door on the main floor so it's easy to get stuff on and off the bike and free WiFi. bonus.

Half of it is in Alberta and the other Half is in Saskatchewan. I remember thinking that was odd when i came through here as a kid. well, here's a picture of the alberta/saskatchewan border

These are the world's largest border markers. Lloydminster is Canada's only border city. go read about what the town, it's quite interesting. i actually got all 4 markers in the shot. neato.

yes, i ate at arby's and now i remember why i don't go there often. heh.

Here's the zoomed in shot of the little green sign above (near the rightmost marker

odo reading 3511

forgot to add what it was yesterday. It was 2900 (about) so i did about 600kms today. Not bad considering all the winds and the late start of the day.

right now i'm not one my 'trip'. I'm just travelling through to get to my starting point, which i've decided is going to be Dawson Creek. then i'll slow down and relax and enjoy my trip. anything i miss on the way out west i'll be able to hit on the way back. except those winds... I hope they aren't there when i get back. I also heard when i'll be coming back it'll be bug season. oh joy.

sunset. time for bed.